Online shopping surges before Black Friday


Black Friday used to be notorious for causing chaos. Lines would form outside of stores hours before they opened, and crowds would fight for the season’s hottest discounted items. However, online shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years and retailers expect this trend to continue through the holiday season.

In 2021, 88 million shoppers took advantage of online Black Friday deals, compared to the 66 million who braved the crowds to shop in stores.

Schneta Antwine, a service and engagement employee for Target, predicts the online shopping trend will continue this Black Friday.

“Our digital sales have greatly increased over the past years due to COVID,” she said. “People are a lot more comfortable shopping online still than in-store, and it’s very convenient for them.”

Best Buy Geek Squad team member Angel Alvarez has also noticed the shopping trend.

“It’s actually been something that we’ve been seeing consistently,” he said.

Black Friday marks the beginning of Christmas shopping. However, the entire five-day week is a busy time for retailers since many stores continue to have sales until Cyber Monday on Nov. 28.

This trend of online shopping poses new challenges for retailers as they find new ways to satisfy shoppers both online and in-store.

“There’s sales going on before actual Black Friday,” Angel Alvarez said. “Just because [people] are coming on Black Friday doesn’t mean they are getting the best deal.”

Some retailers have started their sales as early as October, according to the National Retail Federation.

During Thanksgiving and Black Friday, shoppers spent $14.04 billion in online sales in 2021, according to Adobe Analytics.

The convenience of online shopping marks a shift away from wading through the Black Friday crowds.

“I feel like [Black Friday] is very messy and chaotic, so I don’t want to really get into all of that,” nursing major Alexa Martinez said. She said students are not the ones to participate in Black Friday, instead it is older people who do.

The spectacle of Black Friday dates to the 1950s when masses of people would travel to Philadelphia in advance of the Army-Navy football game held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Friday would be spent shopping while the police worked hard to keep the city in order.

“It brings out the worst in people,” engineering major Chris Alanis said.

Despite the increase in online sales, Black Friday remains the most popular day for in-store shoppers, according to the National Retail Federation.

The precautions that the city of Philadelphia had to take in the past are not so different from the security measures that retailers have prepared for today.

“We’re gonna make sure that we have support from Mesquite PD that day, so that people are being protected properly,” Alvarez said.

Antwine said Target is preparing for Black Friday by making sure they have enough employees by hiring seasonal workers to handle the increase in foot traffic.

The Thanksgiving weekend can be frustrating for retail workers and shoppers alike, but Antwine hopes that all parties involved will be considerate of each other.

“Just be nice to our team members,” Antwine said. “Everyone is a little bit stressed out the closer it gets to Christmas. We’re stressed out trying to make sure everyone is happy. The guests are stressed out trying to get what they need, and we just want everyone to be respectful towards each other.”